Effectiveness of a web-based menu-planning intervention to improve childcare service compliance with dietary guidelines: Randomized controlled trial

Alice Grady, Luke Wolfenden, John Wiggers, Chris Rissel, Meghan Finch, Victoria Flood, David Salajan, Ruby O'Rourke, Fiona Stacey, Rebecca Wyse, Christophe Lecathelinais, Courtney Barnes, Sue Green, Vanessa Herrmann, Sze Lin Yoong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Foods provided in childcare services are not consistent with dietary guideline recommendations. Web-based systems offer unique opportunities to support the implementation of such guidelines. Objective: This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a Web-based menu planning intervention in increasing the mean number of food groups on childcare service menus that comply with dietary guidelines. Secondary aims were to assess the impact of the intervention on the proportion of service menus compliant with recommendations for (1) all food groups; (2) individual food groups; and (3) mean servings of individual food groups. Childcare service use and acceptability of the Web-based program were also assessed. Methods: A single-blind, parallel-group randomized controlled trial was undertaken with 54 childcare services in New South Wales, Australia. Services were randomized to a 12-month intervention or usual care control. Intervention services received access to a Web-based menu planning program linked to their usual childcare management software system. Childcare service compliance with dietary guidelines and servings of food groups were assessed at baseline, 3-month follow-up, and 12-month follow-up. Results: No significant differences in the mean number of food groups compliant with dietary guidelines and the proportion of service menus compliant with recommendations for all food groups, or for individual food groups, were found at 3- or 12-month follow-up between the intervention and control groups. Intervention service menus provided significantly more servings of fruit (P<.001), vegetables (P=.03), dairy (P=.03), and meat (P=.003), and reduced their servings of discretionary foods (P=.02) compared with control group at 3 months. This difference was maintained for fruit (P=.03) and discretionary foods (P=.003) at 12 months. Intervention childcare service staff logged into the Web-based program an average of 40.4 (SD 31.8) times and rated the program as highly acceptable. Conclusions: Although improvements in childcare service overall menu and individual food group compliance with dietary guidelines were not statistically significant, findings indicate that a Web-based menu planning intervention can improve the servings for some healthy food groups and reduce the provision of discretionary foods. Future research exploring the effectiveness of differing strategies in improving the implementation of dietary guidelines in childcare services is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13401
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Child care
  • Child, preschool
  • Internet-based intervention
  • Menu planning
  • Nutrition policy
  • Online systems
  • Randomized controlled trial

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    Grady, A., Wolfenden, L., Wiggers, J., Rissel, C., Finch, M., Flood, V., Salajan, D., O'Rourke, R., Stacey, F., Wyse, R., Lecathelinais, C., Barnes, C., Green, S., Herrmann, V., & Yoong, S. L. (2020). Effectiveness of a web-based menu-planning intervention to improve childcare service compliance with dietary guidelines: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(2), [e13401]. https://doi.org/10.2196/13401